Lost land of the Stone Age sages

Geoff Ward
5 min readAug 17
Skara Brae, the world’s best preserved Neolithic village, on Mainland, the largest island in the Orkney archipelago. Image: Visit Scotland.

About 8,000 years ago, there was titanic landslide in the Norwegian Sea, resulting in a catastrophic tsunami that swept across low-lying islands which were once part of a land-bridge — Doggerland — connecting Britain to mainland Europe.

Three Storegga Slides, as they are called, occuring at the edge of Norway’s continental shelf between 6225–6170 BCE and causing tidal waves to sweep across the North Atlantic Ocean, are among the greatest known submarine landslides.

Although Doggerland was already being submerged by rising sea levels following the end of the last ice age, threatening human habitation there, it’s thought that coastal areas of England, Scotland and mainland Europe would also have been inundated following the slides, with devastating impact on mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) peoples.

Now, a revealing new book, The Mystery of Doggerland: Atlantis in the North Sea, by Graham Phillips (Bear & Company, July 2023), presents persuasive evidence that the ingenious British and Irish megalithic culture originated on an island which once existed alongside what are the present Orkney Islands — an ‘Atlantis of the North’, in a region referred to as North Doggerland, whose people, their sages and artisans, migrated to the Orkneys when their island was becoming flooded, and who later took their way of life to the people of mainland Britain.

Phillips has marshalled conclusively the archaeological and other relevant evidence for an advanced community rising on this island prior to 4000 BCE, a thousand years before the civilisations of Mesopotamia, India and Egypt, and remembered in Celtic legends as Tu-lay. His welcome investigation of this fascinating subject is both auspicious and anticipatory of a more wider acceptance of the acumen and intrepidity of our ancient ancestors.

He gives the sunken land the ‘more lyrical’ name of Fairland, taken from the modern Fair Isle shipping area in which the submerged territory is located, and fits it into the ‘generally accepted theory’ that megalithic (‘great stones’) society existed in the Orkneys before mainland Britain, having appeared suddenly in the islands…

Geoff Ward

Writer, poet, tutor and mentor in literature and creative writing (MA and BA Hons degrees in English literature), book editor, journalist and musician.